Pat is up and running, but Claire has a 200,000 viewer head-start in TV battle
Claire Byrne's 'Marriage Referendum Debate' trumped Pat Kenny's new chat show 'In the Round' in the rating wars.
The two programmes went head-to-head on Monday night, with Byrne's current affairs show pulling in average figures of 368,000 - more than double Kenny's ratings of 150,000.
The Marriage Referendum Debate was the highest-rating programme of the season for Byrne and provoked much discussion online, generating over 15,000 tweets.
Meanwhile, over on UTV Ireland veteran broadcaster Pat Kenny interviewed GAA legend Mickey Harte for the first episode of his chat show. While the ratings were not as strong as Claire Byrne Live, the programme helped boost UTV Ireland's Monday night ratings by 33pc.
UTV Ireland head of channel Mary Curtis said the station was hoping to "build upon the strong start". "We are delighted with the performance of Pat's first show," Ms Curtis said.
"The debut episode delivered a 33pc increase in viewing figures for the 9pm slot and an average of 150,000 people watched Pat's much-anticipated return to television.
'Claire Byrne Live' took over Kenny's former 'The Frontline' slot earlier this year. Despite this, Byrne insists there is no on-screen rivalry between herself and Kenny. "As much as I like Pat, he was the last person I was thinking about before the show began last night," Ms Byrne told the Irish Independent.
"You cannot compare the two programmes. They are like apples and oranges, Pat's show is an hour-long entertainment chat show.
"My programme is a current affairs debate - they couldn't be more different."
Ms Byrne said she felt a degree of responsibility chairing the contentious referendum debate.
"There were some nerves and it was daunting," she said. "There is a huge responsibility when you are dealing with the referendum.
A further two episodes of 'Claire Byrne Live' will air before the summer. Pat Kenny's series will have four episodes before summer.